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Burning the Midnight Oil

God, the demands just keep coming,
The expectations piling…
How do I keep up and keep going? 
It can only be with You. You are my rest.
You satisfy me and refresh my weary soul.

Series Focus: “Resurrecting Hope in the Midst of Life’s Storms”

The alarm sounds while it’s still dark. Another day. Another morning to drag myself out of bed and tackle the day’s demands. Another day to face the needs of all those with whom my life is intertwined. Another jam-packed full schedule to complete. Another evening the shoes won’t come off until hours after dark. Another late night trying to finish up that lingering report, pay the bills, do some chores… And, another night of broken sleep as the incomplete demands of the day explode repeatedly through the mind. … Those get pushed into tomorrow…when I get to rise to do it all again.

Can you relate? This vicious, consuming cycle only leads to one thing – a dangerous thing – Exhaustion.

Yet, there seems to be no escape. Day in and day out, we must complete and accomplish many things as we care for our families, work our jobs, continue our education, participate in our communities, attend and serve our churches, and so much more! In all that, have we made any time for self-care, such as daily reading and study, prayer, journaling, exercise, nutrition, and relaxation? How in the world do we fit it all in?

Perhaps the question should be restated as: Why in the world are we trying to fit it all in? Has God really called us to be and do ALL these things ALL at the same time? Has He put these ridiculous deadlines on us? Or have we said “Yes” to all due to obligation, assumed responsibility, others’ needs, and even – dare I say – pride?

If we are burning the midnight oil consistently, we’re eventually going to run out of oil. According to the experts, symptoms of exhaustion include chronic tiredness, headaches, sore or aching, weak muscles,  slowed reflexes, responses and coordination, impaired decision making and judgement, moodiness, appetite loss, reduced immune system function, blurry vision, short-term memory issues, poor concentration, hallucinations, reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand, and low motivation.

I’m positive not one of us would voluntarily choose any of those symptoms. Yet, we continue to blindly pile commitments into our schedules – seemingly oblivious to the repercussions we are risking. Saying “yes” to that one more request may be the root cause of a physical ailment, slowed reflexes or impaired decision making. Could it be we have brought the storms of exhaustion upon ourselves? That is not God’s desire for any of us.

God doesn’t want us piling so much on our shoulders that we end up physically harming ourselves – and possibly others. No – He sent His Son, Jesus, so that we would be healed and whole, delivered and sanctified, free and enjoying an abundant life.

In fact, Jesus repeatedly took time to get away by Himself to rest, and He encouraged the disciples to do the same. In Luke 5:16, we learn that Jesus withdrew from the crowds to be alone and pray. In Mark 6:31, Jesus said, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” Evidently, there was no time to think, rest, or even eat due to the demands place upon Jesus and the disciples. And in Matthew 11:28, Jesus taught saying, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Have you been so busy that you haven’t had time to think, rest, or even eat? Do you keep pressing through, going on and on and on like the Energizer Bunny?  That is a dangerous decision. If Jesus Himself took time to rest, we need to take note and do the same. He has instructed us to do that very thing.

We are entering a season when we will not only be required to fulfill our “regular” duties, but there will be added demands, tasks and responsibilities. Before that chaos presents itself, let’s discipline ourselves now to choose to rest – to block out time for self-care, which will include prayer, study, and relaxation. And above all else, let’s seek His presence, for He will give us rest.

Let’s not allow the commitments, requirements, and demands in any season to push us into a state of utter exhaustion and threaten our physical health and mental clarity. Simultaneously, if those limits are being stretched, and we find ourselves burning the midnight oil, let’s be aware and resolute to “come away” with the Lord and allow Him to satisfy us in our weariness and refresh us in our despair.

Holding Fast to Hope,

Scripture References: Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 5:16; Mark 6:31; Psalm 4:8, 46:10; Exodus 33:14; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Jeremiah 31:26; John 10:10


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